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Prezi Adds New Features

Have you tried Prezi yet? An old favorite of Learning Technologies, this online presentation tool is quickly growing in popularity as an alternative to linear slideshow programs. Just last month, they added three new features to the presentation mode that are quite exciting:

  • Screen Blackout – Need a break from visuals for a moment? While in presentation mode, users can now simply press the B key to temporarily black out their screen. Moving the mouse or pressing any other key will return to the presentation from there.
  • 3D Backgrounds – Users can now add layers to their presentation, creating a 3D effect. Watch the video below to see the feature in action:

  • Fade-in Animation – Content can now be faded in and out within frames. This is great if you wish to add a hide-and-reappear effect to your presentation. Here’s another video to show you how:

If you’d like to keep up with Prezi as it grows, check out their new feature log, which will be updated when new features are added.

Thanks to David Andrade at Educational Technology Guy for bringing this to our attention!

SkilledUp: The Search Engine for Online Courses

With so many online courses out there, it’s hard to know where to start when looking for one. As of now, most people are hopping around to different content providers like OCW Consortium, Coursera, or CMU Open Learning Initiative to learn something new. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to search all online courses in one place?

While SkilledUp may not be all the way there yet (it’s still in beta), they’ve got the right idea. On the site, users can search for online courses by keyword, or they can choose to browse the courses by topic. Additionally, search results can be filtered by price and duration of the course.

Currently, SkilledUp seems to have the most courses on computing, design, and technical skills, but hopefully will expand into traditional academic areas in the near future. Having a search engine like this would save many online students time–possibly making sifting through Google and course provider after course provider a thing of the past!

Historypin Lets You Search and Pin Historical Photos

Historypin is a site that works in collaboration with Google Maps to map historical photos from all around the world. The user can post their own photos to the map or explore the ones which are already on the site. On Historypin, you can search by area, subject, and even time period.

Not only does the map let you know the area in which the photo was taken, but the user can also compare the photo to a modern-day satellite image of the area. There are also various other helpful tools, including tours– a tool which allows the user to be guided through a sequence of photos that tell a story. Overall, Historypin seems like an exciting tool that could be used for a variety of subjects. For more information, check out the video from Historypin’s site below:

Read-Write Matrix of Web 2.0 Tools

The Read-Write Matrix of Web 2.0 Tools for Learning
Paul Left

The horizontal axis shows who can read the published documents, the vertical axis who can write to them. In each case the mid-point relates to the group of peers – eg learners within a single course. A wider group (ie between the mid-point and the ‘world’) could include members of a broader community of practice, or the local community or family.
The plotted points could be exemplified by:

  1. A personal reflective journal with no audience
  2. A personal wiki or blog which other learners can read
  3. A personal wiki or blog which a wider group can read
  4. A personal wiki or blog which is publicly available on the web
  5. A collaborative wiki for a sub-group of learners
  6. A collaborative wiki for the course
  7. A collaborative wiki for the course which a wider group can read
  8. A collaborative wiki for the course which is publicly available
  9. A collaborative wiki for learners and a wider group
  10. A collaborative wiki which is fully open – publicly readable and writable.

Note: These are typical examples only – the matrix is intended to relate to other tools in addition to blogs and wikis.

View Presentation

Read Extending Read-Write Matrix

Link: http://www.verso.co.nz/mw/index.php?title=The_Read-Write_Matrix

Boosting student engagement using Twitter

In many large universities where class sizes may have upwards of 100 people or more, professors and their TA’s face the continuous problem of how to engage students in discussion and participate in the class. Dr. Monica Rankin, a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas experimented with using Twitter in her history class as a means to increase participation.

According to TA Megan Malone, “It’s been really exciting because, in classes like this, you’ll have three people who talk about the discussion material, and so to actually have 30 or 40 people at the same time talking about it is really interesting,”. Students in another class at Purdue University using Twitter also agree that digital communication helps overcome “the shyness barrier”, especially in large classes.

You can read more about Twitter in the classroom at http://mashable.com/2010/03/01/twitter-classroom/. The YouTube video below showcases the opinions of the instructor and students to using Twitter.